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Vikes Beat Pats in Summer League Baseball

July 19, 2011
Union Pines High School

By Leigh Pember
The Pilot

Union Pines bested Pinecrest in what turned out to be a battle of the pines.

The schools, currently playing in the Central Carolina Summer Scholastic League, faced off on Monday evening at Union Pines. The game ended 12-7 in six-and-a-half innings.

Union Pines took the lead early on, making the score 7-2 after the third inning. But this quickly changed when Pinecrest scored five runs during the sixth to tie things up. Ultimately, the game went to the Vikings as they also scored five during the sixth.

Despite the use of the new BBCOR-certified bats, the Vikings hit three home runs - all in the third inning. Several more balls from both teams' batters hit the fence in what would arguably have been homers using different bats.

Even without the hitting power of their previous bats, both teams were able to drive in a large number of runs. Tristan Helms was the offensive player of the evening for the Patriots with four RBIs. Matt Eddy and Carson Maples rounded out Pinecrest's seven runs with two RBIs and one RBI, respectively.

Union Pines had a deep batting line-up. Although coach Chad Hill said they only play 15 players a night, seven of them had at least one RBI. Mason Collins, Seth Breasseale, Tyler Davis and Jordan Hunt each had two.

Hunt's two came from a ground-rule double that slid under the fence. Luckily, Mason had stolen second while Hunt was at bat, giving the Vikings two runs as Bresseale was already on third.

The three homers of the night were hit by Nic Collins, Mason Collins and Breasseale.

Pinecrest went with three pitchers. Tanner Haley pitched for three innings until Matt Epley was brought on during the third after a streak of Viking homers. Matt Eddy finished up the game, pitching the last three innings.

Union Pines used a variety of pitchers. Davis, Mason Collins, Jeff Thompson, Hunt and Breasseale all spent time on the mound.

While summer league games tend to be less competitive, Monday's victory was still important for Union Pines, as the Vikes are tied for second and are still in the running for the playoffs. Pinecrest, with a record of "about .500," has only a slim chance of qualifying.

"We're split with Richmond, and Scotland and Lumberton beat us," Pinecrest coach Ben Hammer says. "So someone would have to beat two of those three teams."

Even though the Vikings have a shot at the playoffs, coach Hill said winning games is just an "added bonus."

"If you're playing well, you'll play. If you're playing badly, you'll play," he says. "Everyone's playing time is predetermined."

There is no doubt that many players on both teams are playing well. With the departure of some extremely talented seniors in 2011, younger players have to step up and fill their shoes.

"We had two freshman, Tristan Helms and Austin Embler, start on varsity last year, so of course they're big players for us," Hammer said. "Two other young kids playing really well for us are Matt Epley and Dalton Bullard. Epley pitches quite a bit, and he's doing a really good job. Bullard has caught a ton of innings for us this year."

The Vikings have plenty of rising talent as well. Hill specifically said he is pleased with how Tyler Barber, Thompson, Emmitt Carden and Davis are playing. He really sees these summer league games as a place to gauge who he will play during the school season.

"The main thing for summer is that I've got to find the right mix for spring," Hill said. "Because spring time is what counts. This is really just an elaborate practice."


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